Mom & Baby Care

Baby Showing Signs Of An Ear Infection? Here's When To See A Doctor

5 min read

By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 16 May 2023, Updated on - 16 June 2023

  • Share this article

  • 0

  • 0 like

Newborns tend to fall sick quite often. However, even the slightest discomfort to the baby can be worrisome for the new parents. One such common problem among newborns is ear infection, which is seen in around 11% of babies. Ear infections can occur when microbes like bacteria or viruses get trapped in the fluid behind the eardrum. As a result, the baby experiences pain, swelling or a bulging of the eardrum. However, the good news is that ear infections in toddlers and babies can be treated effectively. Let us understand more about ear infections and how to recognise them.

Common Symptoms of Ear Infections

One of the most common and early symptoms of ear infections in children is pain in and around their affected ear. Since most children develop ear infections before they even learn to talk, it can be challenging for parents to understand why their child is crying or what is troubling them.

Here are a few signs of ear infection in toddlers and babies:

  • Loss of appetite: When parents notice their child is not feeding well, it may be because swallowing causes pressure changes in their middle ear, causing pain and a lower desire to eat.
  • Irritability: Constant pain and irritation in the ear can make babies and toddlers cranky and irritable.
  • Poor sleep: Lying down can increase or worsen the pressure in the ear. This also aggravates the pain, making sleep difficult.
  • Fever: In almost half of the children who develop ear infections, fever is common, which can sometimes go from 100 to 104 degrees.
  • Drainage from ear: Drainage of yellow, brown or whitish fluid from the ear is a sign of severe ear infection in babies. Drainage from the ear indicates the requirement for immediate medical help.
  • Difficulty in hearing: Most ear infections occur in the middle ear. Bones in this part of the ear connect to the nerves that send electrical signals to the brain. When there is fluid build-up behind the ear drum, it slows down the movement of these signals affecting the child’s hearing.

How are Ear Infections Diagnosed?

If a parent suspects ear infection in their toddler or infant, they must consult their doctor immediately. The doctor will look into the child’s ear using an otoscope. While a healthy eardrum is pinkish-grey, it may appear inflamed, swollen or red when there is an infection.

The doctor also checks the fluid in the middle ear by blowing a small amount of air into it using a pneumatic otoscope. If there is fluid inside the ear, the eardrum will not move.

In some cases, the doctor may use tympanometry to check the air pressure in the middle ear, which is particularly useful if the fluid in the middle ear is not draining.

How are Ear Infections in Babies Treated?

Treatment for ear infections in babies and toddlers depends on several factors. The most common treatment for ear infections in babies and toddlers usually includes:

1. Antibiotics: These groups of drugs may be prescribed if the ear infection is due to bacteria. However, doctors may wait for around three days to confirm if the ear infection is bacterial. In case of severe ear infections, antibiotics may be prescribed immediately.

2. Pain-relieving medications: OTC pain relievers can help relieve the baby’s ear pain. Considering the age group, they may be available as syrups or ear drops. These pain-relieving medications begin to lessen the intensity of the pain and soothe the child. Parents must avoid giving medications without consulting their child’s doctor. Since ear aches are common during bedtime, using a warm compress on the outside of the affected ear can help relieve the pain.

In a few cases, additional treatments may be needed to relieve the child of the ear infection and associated signs and symptoms. Identifying ear infection symptoms in infants is crucial for parents to ensure their child receives the necessary medical attention promptly.

Consult Apollo's Expert Paediatricians


1. When should I take my baby to the doctor for an ear infection?

Call your doctor if you notice one or more of the ear infection symptoms in babies:

  • Severe ear pain or the baby is crying inconsolably
  • Ear pain lasts over two to three days
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Your child's appetite or diet is being affected
  • Your baby is unable to sleep at night

2. How urgent is an ear infection in babies?

Most children develop frequent ear infections before they learn how to speak. For this reason, it may take longer for parents to realise their child has an ear infection. As a result, most ear infections are diagnosed when they are already moderate to severe.

3. How does a doctor confirm ear infections in babies?

Your child's doctor will evaluate the signs and symptoms and examine the baby's ear using an otoscope to confirm the diagnosis.

4. How long do ear infections in babies last?

Most ear infections clear up within two to three days, while others may take up to a week. However, do not wait for your baby's ear infection to clear up on its own, as there may be a risk of developing complications.

5. Can ear infections in babies be serious?

While middle ear infections in infants and toddlers rarely turn serious, it is always recommended to consult with a paediatrician if you suspect your child has an ear infection.

Consult Apollo's Expert Paediatricians 


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.


blog banner


Mom & Baby Care

Leave Comment


Email Id


  • Share this article

  • 0

  • 0 like